He said, “I don’t want to go into philosophy – don’t change the subject! You have to tell me why you remained sitting.”
I said, “Because I have not seen anything honorable in you. Now, I am helpless – I cannot honor a person if I cannot find anything honorable in him. I cannot be a hypocrite.”
He said, “You don’t understand. I will bring you to your senses with just one good beating.” And he took his cane out of his desk.
I said, “You can beat me, but just look outside the window.”
He said, “What is there?”
I said, “Just look….” because outside the window, far away, was the police station.
He said, “What do you mean?”
I said, “You beat me first – then accompany me to the police station, because physical punishment is a crime.”
His cane slipped from his hand. He had never thought about it, that a student could report against him. He said, “But this will become a precedent for others; nobody will stand up….”
I said, “There is no need. In what way does our standing help you? Just so you can feel powerful? These poor boys are standing out of fear, not in love, in trust; not in real gratitude.”
Something happened to that man. He threw away the cane.
And now because he was not beating them, for the first time he started encountering the beauties of small children. In violence, all those beauties shrink. In fact, the violence prevents their growth in all directions: in intelligence, in love, in friendliness, in sharing, in rejoicing…. The whole day long, from one class to another they are humiliated, insulted, beaten. Still you expect respect from them.
I made it clear to him: “I will give you respect – and only on that day can you decide that something has happened in your life. All the respect that has been shown up to now was out of fear. Unless I feel love for you and gratitude for you, you will have to wait. And you will have to be patient. It rarely happens that people change so quickly.”
But perhaps he was just on the verge, and only a slight push was needed. He turned a complete circle, one hundred and eighty degrees. He came to be one of the most lovable, respectable teachers in the whole school. He was not senior enough, but because of his tremendous change he was chosen to be the principal of the school the next year when the old principal retired, although it was not his turn.